Tracking Your Devices After They’re Lost or Stolen

I have an OCD-like compulsion of checking to make sure my phone is on me or nearby at all times. Although I have a passcode lock on it, losing my phone is of great concern, and I’m certain I’m not alone.

There are ways to remotely wipe your phone, but if I did lose it I would probably just want it back. The first step there is knowing where it can be found.

Dom Deltorno of London, England lost his MacBook on Feb. 4, 2013 when it was stolen from his home apartment. In April 2013 the tracking service showed him where the laptop was, but he was shocked of the results. He created a Tumblr blog about the experience, Dom’s laptop is in Iran.

Using an app that allowed him to remotely take pictures, Dom populated the site with photos of the new owners of the laptop, who eventually heard about the site and contacted him. Ultimately he discovered they were not responsible for the theft and had purchased it on the black market, and he removed the pictures of the new owners. He shut down the site and removed the pictures of the new owners on their request, and issued an apology for posting them.

In other cases, computer owners have been successful in retrieving their property, or convincing police to take action when they have initially been dismissive of it.

We hear a lot from naysayers about cloud computing, but it has its security benefits as well. Hack college has a recent piece on how you can use Dropbox to track your lost or stolen mobile device by looking up the IP address of where it was last used.

If you have automatic camera upload to Dropbox enabled you may even get photos of their friends and recent social activities. Dropbox now offers up to 3G free in camera uploads, so it’s worth checking out.

Tracking features still won’t prevent my phone from ending up in places like Iran. But hopefully it saves me some mental energy from checking my pocket every hour.

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